Barratts of Manchester (Oxford Rd)

Adrian Barratt's shop was always a haven for muso's, especially with its (then) close proximity to A1 Repairs, Mameloks and Reno's - not to mention the Wimpy Bar.

Barratts original shop was a small one on the corner of the block, near to where the Railway bridge crosses Oxford Road, the large Barratts Shop (double fronted) was originally their drum shop and was called 'The Percussion Centre'.

As a sax player the shop held little fascination for me but for guitarists it must have been heaven. I can remember Eric Haydock working there after leaving the Hollies and probably after Eric Haydock's Rockhouse. At the time, it was always a good feeling to be served by him - he was a real "pop star".

I shall also remember Brian Higham, the manager extra-ordinary! 


One thing you may not have realised is that Barratt's had a 'chain' of shops.

The original was 72/77 (?) Oxford Street, the one in the picture, now very ironically The Samaritans! They had the factory and wholesale division for brass instruments at White City Old Trafford, a shop in Preston, managed by the Famous Sid, and a branch in Newcastle managed by Ces, which was just out of the town centre, and another Manchester shop on Oxford Road at number 8a, which was the brass and woodwind (or 'instrument') shop.

Newcastle was the first to go, really they should have moved into the town centre and it would have done well, but they didn't want to relocate.

Preston stayed a Barratt's shop long after Manchester had shut down. In the 80's Adrian had the idea of a "superstore" along the lines of Sound Control/Academy, very visionary really at the time, but he chose to move everything to White City factory, which they owned, (the Manchester stores were rented) but it was too far out of Manchester centre and the stock was never at superstore levels, so the punters didn't go, other than a few die hard brass and woodwind regulars.

On the eve of the big move 8a was transferred out to White City, 72 was shut and we ran the "rock" shop from 8a, right opposite the new BBC, which provided us with some regular hire for drum kits and Rhodes piano's. Then 8a was shut.

72 was re-opened as (I think) Music Maker, with a token staff. The superstore thing only lasted a couple of years, Adrian was ousted by his own board and given the Preston shop, which he named Music Maker and ran until his death around eight or ten years ago I think. Barratt's finally returned to 72/77 Oxford Street under the management of Gerry Kennedy, former rep for Rose Morris, who married Mavis Barratt, Adrian's mum (around 1980 I think).

Sadly Gerry became ill and died twelve months later, so Adrian was brought back in to run Manchester and although it had done well under Gerry's management, things were changing in Manchester, and it went slowly down the tubes and shut after a few years.

Adrian carried on with the Preston shop, by which time A1 had a branch there as well, until he became ill. I heard about his death a few years later through a client here who had a business partner who had bought the assets of the old White City factory.

Did you know Dave Edmunds worked in the Cardiff shop and had Andy Fairweather-Low as a Saturday boy.




The above photo is the guitar repair workshop, on a quiet day by the look of it, this was on the middle floor of 72 Oxford Street, the little amplifier is an Arbiter Powerhouse, I still own one that I use at home from time to time.

We were due to move down the road to 8a Oxford Road, facing the ‘new’ BBC studios, this branch had been the strings, brass and woodwind shop, or “instrument Shop”, All the stock and staff had been moved out to Chester Road Old Trafford, opposite the White City stadium, where the factory was, this was a bold move at the time and pre dated some of the out of town super stores by several years, but to be successful a shop has to have stock and some reason for people to travel out of town, and to be honest this never happened.

The “instrument” thing really used to annoy us, people would come into the Oxford Street shop looking for brass and woodwind and say “where are all your instruments?” like guitars, keys and drums didn’t fit that category, it happened even more once we moved to 8a.

Strangely Music Ground have just opened a branch either in the same shop or the one next door to 8a on Oxford Road

Paul Braddock


As a 'Manchester Beat' enthusiast, I have enjoyed reading your many comments on the general 'Group' (yes not band) scene in Manchester during the 19'60s, in particular your experiences as Manager at Barratts Music.

Like yourself, I grew up through that period and played in many groups, and often would make pilgrimages to your shop to seek advice ,borrow and buy. You and Adrian were terrific and really encouraged the young musicians of that time - thank you !

I have just seen your website,where you were playing a red Hofner Verithin in those early days, and the reason for contacting you is that in December 1963 I purchased, from Barratts, a second hand one, same spec., for £40 (on HP) . I am just having a clear out and found the original bill, signed by Adrian. I know you went on to play the 'Country Gent' and I just wondered if the Hofner was the 'same' Guitar ? 

If it was, you can see it in one of my early school groups on Manchester Beat -- 'The Secrets of Manchester' and also 'The Citrons'.

I went on, later, to sing in 'The Puzzle', so I must have traded in the Hofner for a Marshall PA, which you sold us along with the ' Marshall Amp Stacks' some years on. Just a thought ?

Thanks again for all your help!

Brian Cochrane - 29/1/09

My fondest memories of Barratts were me going down there every saturday afternoon for my drum lesson. If Iremember correctly the teacher was a guy called Dave Edwards. T thanks to him I was in regular work drumming for a good 30 years, playing in various groups and then in various clubs as resident drummer, OH HAPPY DAYS.

Keith Lock

I worked at the Brass and Percussion shop in the summer of 75. I was mad on guitars and would volunteer to run errands up the road to where I would be confronted by Cec and the gang. One day I met this guy called Dave Edwards who used to teach drums,eleven years later he taught me to fly and we both ended up Captains in the Airlines. Dave still gigs and is happy to talk about his muso days especially his starring role with Brian and Michael with whom he played Matchstick cats and dogs. Great Days!!

K. O'Donnell

I was playing in a Kent based band and was making a rare 'tour' into the NW. We were doing a bit of shopping in Manchester, so I took the band into Reno's and Barratts (as you would).

My last memory of Barratts was one of our silly roadies agreeing to have his hands gaffertaped round a lamp post outside the shop. Naturally once his hands were tied and resistance impossible, we continued until both rolls were empty and he became mummified a couple of feet up the lampost. Off to A1 for new rolls of tape and then the Wimpy for a coffee. He had to be rescued by a very understanding policewoman".

Paul Mlynarz, Manchesterbeat webmaster and ex-Phoenix City Smash (Mc/r) and Life 'n' Soul (Kent)

I used to work in Barratt's many years back and I was in the shop on the day of the roadie gaffered to lampost incident, the WPC came in and said, (pointing out of the door towards the street) to the assembled band members "does this belong to you".

We all wandered out for a look and in fact it wasn't just his hands but his head taped up as well! I've often told the story of the taped up roadie, but I never knew the name of the band.

I recall it was a fairly quiet day when you guys came in, it cheered us up for the rest of the day!"

Paul Braddock, ex-Barratts - 2008

"In the late 50s and early 60s it was the premier music shop in the north west.

I ordered my Fender jazz bass from there in early 1960, when I took delivery of it about 2 weeks later, Barrats got a letter from Jennings ( the importers and agents for Fender ) asking them to send it back, because it was the first one in the UK ( later found out it was the first to be exported from the USA ) and was intended to go to Jet Harris of the Shadows, but Adrian Barrat just told them it was already sold and paid for.

We used to have some great sessions there at lunch times, there was always a crowd in trying the guitars and drums, Adrian's dad who was a dance band musician used to play hell about the noise, he used to turn off the power so all the amps went off, its the only way he could get rid of us.

It was also like a job centre for musicians, if you ever wanted a drummer/bass player/guitarist Adrian usually knew someone looking for a group."

Butch Mepham 

Remember the Percussion Centre,on Oxford Rd.opposite the Prudential? Owned by Barratts and seperated from Barratts music shop by a tiny pub?I reopened it as manager in 1964,after it was rebuilt following a disatrous fire.One incident I remember.The late Johnny Roadhouse coming to collect an organ.We heaved it into the back of his old Rolls Royce.He slammed the door and it fell off onto the pavement.We picked it up slung it in the back and he drove off without a word.

Syd- 27/4/10


Brian Higham (left) and Adrian Barratt (right) meeting the President of the King Brass & Woodwind company at their main factory in Wyckliffe Cleveland Ohio U.S.A in 1974. 

"We flew to New York and then on to Houston, Ttexas to the NAMM show. We stayed there for 4 days then drove from Houston thru Dallas on through Amarillo up to Chicago then on to Cleveland then up to Niagara to Buffalo and Springfield ,into new york state and the into new york itself, stayed there for two days and the home to the uk. When Adrian dropped me off at home I was we knackered. as he got back in his car he said "See you in the morning at the shop 9-30 sharp". He was all heart you know.

Brian Higham 



On the right, a picture of Barratt's window in early 70s.

The first guitar, the strat, I sold to Hank Marvin and a Les Paul custom which is now owned by Keith Hopwood (Herman's Hermits).

The second one is one of the very first tele thinline model.

I sold this to John Farrar, he's the guy who wrote " You're the one that I want" for the film Grease.






The picture on the left is the same one bit with different pick ups, different scratch plate and three bigsby palm pedals on.

To play it you had to be a genius, but then he was...

Brian Higham





John Farrar trying out a guitar upstairs in the shop.



Brian Higham outside the shop 1960s



The legendary Maynard Ferguson at Barratts



I am pretty sure that this is the great Ernie Watson (NDO) - who also doubled Accordian. I went to Birley High School in Hulme and constantly wagged it to hear those guys rehearse and record - they were very kind to me and a mate and would get us a cup of tea and toast. It was amazing how quick they got an arrangment down and recorded.

I am now a saxophone player in Manchester - the stuff on this site made my life.

Paul Baylis




Cec Mosley (Boomerangs)
Eric Haydock and Terry Smith









My Grandma (sadly no longer with us) worked for 'Mr Barratt' for a number of years. Her real name was Edna Lauder but she often went by the name of Penny. Does anyone remember her? I believe that she did the accounts and was also a typist in the office. Any information would be gladly received. She spoke of her time their very fondly.

Heather Hayes - 9/10/10

I remember Pat Lauder as 'Auntie Pat'. As a little girl I used to go into the offices with my mum Mavis during the school holidays. Pat used to sit in the next office and I could see her through the glass partition as she worked away at the accounts. Pat used to babysit me from time to time and I still have the lego garage she bought for me as a Christmas present. 

I also remember going in to see her in Lewis's where she worked after she left Barratts. She was a good friend to my mum.

Alison Hagger (nee Barratt) - 16/11/10

My dad worked here, at Oxford Road guitar shop I think, in the 70s/80s, does anyone remember Pat Huston? I remember meeting Gerry as a small kid - he gave me a kazoo! and Aidy Edleston who used to do repairs.

I remember my dad telling me they superglued a 50p piece to the pavement just outside the shop and laughed all day as passers by tried to pick it up!

I also remember one saturday when I was little, hitting a huge gong that was in the window, the whole window shook, as well as the people at the bus stop outside!

Brendan Huston - 18/3/11

I have been really enjoying your site, especially the info about the music shops of Manchester, it brought back memories of going into the Barrats brass shop with my Dad who was a cornet player, he was always trading instruments and knew Julian Barrat well.

The brass shop had a massive mural of brass players with Dizzy Gillespie blowing out his cheeks, my Dad said that was no way to play the trumpet.

Glynn Buckley - 21/5/11

Before I became a 'pro' musician and played with more bands than I had had hot dinners, I worked at Barratts ... actually I was at 'The Percussion Center.' 

This would be around 1963 or so. I had been playing drums for 3 or 4 years and was 'drum mad' The first time I saw the shop it blew my mind! all those drums...kits set up on revolving platforms bathed in spotlights...what a sight. I walked in and asked if they were hiring. The manager at that time was Graham King and he said"Come down to Rockerama at Belle Vue. We are doing a display there and we can talk about it" 

So I went down to Rockerama that night and Barratts Percussion Center had their own display just outside the dance hall and to my great excitement I got the gig as general gofer and coffee maker. I loved working there...I think I would have paid them just so I could be in this drum palace. At the time there was nothing like the Percussion Center outside of London...Arbiters had 'Drum City' in the west end but it was small and nowhere near as spectacular as The Percussion Center.

So the staff at that time was (a) Graham King, manager ((b) Roy Mac
sales and myself. Graham King was the resident drummer at the Domino club and Roy Mac had his own trio and was resident at (I think) The Cabaret Club. This was quite a time in the history of the Manchester Music scene...the 60's were just beginning to explode into what became possibly the greatest decade in the British music scene, Everybody was buying stuff 'on the drip' (hire purchase) and because of the Beatles and Shadows every British male subject from the age 13 and up wanted to be in a group - myself included.

Drum kits were flying out the door as 'The Beat Boom' went from a fad to a solid, ongoing reality.

I remember a Premier Kit would be priced at '4 Drums. 83 pounds' ... and what you got was just that,4 drums ... if you wanted a bass drum pedal (which of course you did) that was extra.Same with a snare drum stand or a cymbal stand...but that price, 83 quid, dragged people in en masse and the place was doing a roaring trade. Then the American drums started arriving: The Ludwig Super Classic Kit! Two Hundred and sixty three could buy a small house for that kind of money. But the sound of those Ludwig drums ... Nothing like it on the planet.

It was like the difference between a Hofner Verithin and a Fender Stratocaster. Whenever I was in the shop by myself I would knock 7 colors of shit out of that kit! I had a Premier kit at the time (like Ringo) but it became my goal in life to get a Ludwig. The shop also had as a display piece a massive gong about 8 feet high. It was made by Zildjian and was on loan from the Zildjian factory.The order of the day was:Nobody touches the gong! .....but of course as long as it was there somebody had to try it out. That would be me..again I waited until every body was at lunch and grabbed the large padded mallett that came with the monster and whacked it as hard as I could...nothing happened at first, but then the sound from this thing built up over a period of several seconds into an ear splitting roar...never heard anything like it, the windows were shaking and it would not stop...I felt for sure I would be fired but somehow nobody noticed and all was well.

I could go on all day about that shop..On Saturdays I would be working the floor and parked right outside the window would be the Ivans Meads van covered in lipstick waiting for me to finish at 6pm so I could jump in and get off to that nights gig at The Place in Hanley or Sale Locarno or The Twisted Wheel or The Oasis or etc., etc.,

Looking back I have to say that working there was the best learning experience I could have had..all day long surrounded by drums and drummers talking about drums and drummers, picking up tips from some of the best musicians out there, not just how to play but how to 'look and act the part.'

Alan Powell - 1/6/11

Does anyone know where Clive Neal has got to ?, he worked at Barratts in the early 60s. Clive used to play sax with Pete Bocking, Graham Attwood, Keith Shepherd, Ian Starr and myself in the Pete Bocking six, apart from playing sax, he was also a good keyboard player.

Butch Mepham - 18/6/11

I have so many memories of Barratts of Manchester from buying drums to getting a personal credit note from Adrian Barrett himself to allow my dad to have HP anytime he wanted.

One of my fondest memories was having drum lessons with the great late Roy Mac upstairs in a little room above the shop you couldnt swing a cat round in I learnt so much from Roy and I never knew which eye he was looking at me with ! !

God Bless you Roy where ever you are. 

John Mills - 10/7/11

A long shot, this one but way back in 1969/70, In Barratts window was a green Guild Thunderbird guitar, as played by Zal Yanovski of the Lovin' Spoonful. It was love at first sight and I've always fancied one of these but they are quite rare, although they come up on ebay now and then, but never in green. Does anyone out there have this beautiful guitar?

Geoff Phillips - 3/12/11

Barratts was THE place to go to buy musical stuff in the early sixties as the place was staffed by knowledgable musos who didnt hassle you to buy anything. I always bought my drumsticks there as I could sit in a corner with a practice pad and go through a whole box of American hickory sticks to find a few that matched (Picky, yes, but I was taught very strict stickwork from 13 yrs old in an R.A.F. Air Cadets band so even as a 16 y.r. old I knew my stuff.)

One time I guess in 1963 a really polite guy with a scouse accent came over and paid me a compliment on my playing and showed me the secret of very fast triplets. It was Trevor Morais from The Peddlars!( He told me they were the first jazz/rock outfit to play a gig at Coventry Cathedral).

It has been my thrill and privelege to have worked with many top class musicians over the years, but I have never forgotten the kindness of this total stranger, one of the best jazzrock drummers England has ever produced, taking time out to encourage a young guy,with no hidden agendas, just a shared love of music.Barratts had the sort of atmosphere where things like this could happen.

John Alty - 7/1/12

My father, Peter Russell, worked for Barratts up until we moved to Australia in 1967. He worked for Johnny Roadhouse before that, and played woodwind at the Palace Theatre at night. Dad is 89 in a few days, and is in Aged Care. I don't know if anyone would remember him. 

David Russell - 14/11/12

Barratt's and other music stores offered a big Saturday morning out for me and my mates from Cheshire. 1964 and every kid on the block trying to form a group. I had a Hohner Blonde guitar but decided to take up drumming as it offered me a better chance of a place in our group. So I went to Barratts and asked them to take the Hohner in part x for a set of drums - I'm not sure but maybe Olympic or Olympia. They were very good to me but pointed out I would also have to dole out a fair bit of cash. More than I had. I took the guitar home, disappointed, and sold it to a pal. I never got a place in the group! I've got a nice acoustic nowadays but I wish I'd held onto the Hohner.

A few years later I started work in Manchester, getting off each day at Oxford Road station and often having a good look at all the guitars in Barratts. The staff must have got sick of me knowing I wasn't buying but they were always friendly. A great store.

Colin Evans - 21/11/12

Yeah! I knew Adrian a lifetime ago... Trombone with the veritable James Shepherd Versaile Brass, and still in regular contact with Ray Woodfield, (still going VERY strong)!

Bob Atkinson - 18/12/12 

I came upon your site whilst trying to find some information on a Barratts Chromatone guitar amplifier, which I’m confident was sold by Barratts music shop as the logo on the front of the amplifier matched that of the logo on the Barratts music shop pages on your site. I recon this amplifier dates to the early/mid 60’s and is built lake a battle ship. I got this amplifier thanks to a friend who spotted this amplifier in a general auction in South Wales. It fund its way into my hands as my friend didn’t want it. The amplifier is now in Southend-on-Sea, Essex.

I must admit when I first saw Barratts on the amplifier I vaguely remember seeing Barratts in a Beat Instrument magazine many, many years ago, but I felt it was a manufacturer and not a shop.

I would really love to find someone who worked for Barratts who can further identify this amplifier or even someone who was involved in its manufacture who could tell me more about its design etc.

I figure not many were made as I’ve been an electronics engineer the audio and music industry since 1975 and I’ve never seen one before.

I did work for small amplifier manufacturing company called Roost who were based in Southend. Roost was sold to FAL, Leeds in mid-1979.

I’ve attached a few pictures of the amplifier.

Terry Bateman - Southend-on-sea.

It was really bugging me exactly where I saw the Barratts advert and I eventually found it in the August 1975 Beat Instrumental magazine.

It was for a POD-MOD, which I figure is some sort of active EQ for a Fender Telecaster.

I’m finding the ‘classic’ guitars like Tele’s and Strat’s, which were modified back in the day, are now being put back to original. I suppose this is because of the current high value of these instruments in ‘stock’ condition.

I also designed an active EQ for guitars, which, I still make a few of, but instead of fitting it in the guitar is goes in a separate ‘stomp’ box.

Terry Bateman - Southend-on-sea - 14/2/14 
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